41 Facts About Louis MacNeice


Frederick Louis MacNeice was an Irish poet and playwright, and a member of the Auden Group, which included W H Auden, Stephen Spender and Cecil Day-Lewis.


Louis MacNeice was born in Belfast, the youngest son of Rev John Frederick and Elizabeth Margaret MacNeice.


When Louis MacNeice was six, his mother was admitted to a Dublin nursing home suffering from severe clinical depression and he did not see her again.


Louis MacNeice survived uterine cancer but died of tuberculosis in December 1914.


Louis MacNeice later described the cause of his mother's death as "obscure", and blamed his mother's cancer on his own difficult birth.


Louis MacNeice joined her at Sherborne Preparatory School later in the year.


Louis MacNeice was generally happy at Sherborne, which gave an education concentrating on the Classics and literature.


Louis MacNeice was an enthusiastic sportsman, something which continued when he moved to Marlborough College in 1921, having won a classical scholarship.


Louis MacNeice wrote poetry and essays for the school magazines.


In November 1925, Louis MacNeice was awarded a postmastership to Merton College, Oxford, and he left Marlborough in the summer of the following year.


Louis MacNeice threw himself into the aesthetic culture, publishing poetry in literary magazines The Cherwell and Sir Galahad, organising candle-lit readings of Shelley and Marlowe, and visiting Paris with Hilton.


Auden would become a lifelong friend who inspired Louis MacNeice to take up poetry seriously.


John MacNeice was horrified to discover his son was engaged to a Jew, while Ezra's family demanded assurances that Louis's brother's Down's syndrome was not hereditary.


Amidst this turmoil Louis MacNeice published four poems in Oxford Poetry, 1929 and his first undergraduate collection Blind Fireworks.


Louis MacNeice was awarded a first-class degree in literae humaniores, and had already gained an appointment as Assistant Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham.


Birmingham was a very different university from Oxford, Louis MacNeice was not a natural lecturer, and he found it difficult to write poetry.


Louis MacNeice turned instead to a semi-autobiographical novel, Roundabout Way, which was published in 1932 under the name of Louis Malone as he feared a novel by an academic would not be favourably reviewed.


Louis MacNeice started to write poetry again, and in January 1933 he and Auden led the first edition of Geoffrey Grigson's magazine New Verse.


Louis MacNeice engaged a nurse to look after Dan, and his sister and stepmother helped on occasion.


In early 1936, Blunt and Louis MacNeice visited Spain, shortly after the election of the Popular Front government.


Auden and Louis MacNeice travelled to Iceland in the summer of that year, which resulted in Letters from Iceland, a collection of poems, letters and essays.


Louis MacNeice was featured in two high-profile collections of modernist poetry of 1936.


Louis MacNeice moved into Geoffrey Grigson's former flat in Hampstead with Daniel and his nurse.


The poem was finished by February 1939, and published in May It is widely viewed as Louis MacNeice's masterpiece, recording his feelings as the Spanish Civil War raged and the United Kingdom headed towards war with Germany, as well as his personal concerns and reflections over the past decade.


Louis MacNeice met the writer Eleanor Clark in New York, and arranged to spend the next academic year on sabbatical so that he could be with her.


Cornell proved a success but the relationship with Eleanor did not, and Louis MacNeice was back in London by the end of 1940.


Louis MacNeice worked as a freelance journalist and was awaiting the publication of Plant and Phantom, which was dedicated to Clark.


Brigid Corinna Louis MacNeice was born a year later.


Dylan Thomas acted in some of Louis MacNeice's plays during this period, and the two poets, both heavy drinkers, became social companions.


Louis MacNeice narrated the 1945 film Painted Boats.


In 1953, Louis MacNeice wrote Autumn Sequel, a long autobiographical poem in terza rima, which critics compared unfavourably with Autumn Journal.


The death of Dylan Thomas came partway through the writing of the poem, and Louis MacNeice involved himself in memorials for the poet and attempts to raise money for his family.


Louis MacNeice travelled to Egypt in 1955 and Ghana in 1956 on lengthy assignments for the BBC.


Louis MacNeice was drinking increasingly heavily, and having more or less serious affairs with other women.


Louis MacNeice was awarded the CBE in the 1958 New Year's Honours list.


Hedli asked Louis MacNeice to leave the family home in late 1960.


In early 1961, Solstices was published, and in the middle of the year Louis MacNeice became a half-time employee at the BBC, leaving him six months a year to work on his own projects.


Louis MacNeice's ashes were buried in Carrowdore churchyard in County Down, with his mother and maternal grandfather.


Muldoon and Derek Mahon have both written elegies for Louis MacNeice, Mahon's coming after a pilgrimage to the poet's grave in the company of Longley and Seamus Heaney in 1965.


Louis MacNeice's archive was established at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin in 1964, a year after MacNeice's death.


Louis MacNeice wrote several plays which were never produced, and many for the BBC which were never published.